For a long time I am using the Rockbox OS in my Apple iPod Nano 1G as the primary OS, which also has iPodlinux, and ofcourse the Apple OS installed. You can find the step-by-step guide how I made this stuff here : Triple Boot Your iPod. Yesterday my brother asked me if there are other options for his iPod Video 5G, and can it be dual booted just like a computer. Because what he wants is operational iPod, i stroke iPodLinux out of the list, as has a lot of problems (sorry for that). Rockbox is the primary choice which gives tons of features and good performance. I sat down and started to follow my own guide, three causes: [1] Wanted to make sure nothing goes wrong, [2] Wanted to see if the guide I wrote is really a helpful one, [3] It is still thrilling. Although there is no need to manually install Rockbox as they now supply auto installers, but installing manually although needs some time and might need some responsibility, but with auto install the thrill factor is over. I should not comment about the Rockbox auto installer, as I haven’t used the installer or enough time, but it is pretty good and worked flawlessly. I would encourage you to use Rockbox auto installer, they provide a GUI and options and choices of softwares and very easy click-click install interface. Therefore for non-commandline guys the Rockbox autoinstaller is recommended. You can get it here:
I am re-writing only the Rockbox installation process, probably this would be a bit easier to read than the previous guide, for the people who wants to avoid installing iPodLinux.

This is what I did to the iPod and made it dual booting.

If you have an iPod Video 5G then you can simply do the installation, else you need to confirm if your Apple iPod model is supported by the Rockbox here and download the corresponding version files.

Set a camp in any directory, spawn a shell and get into your camp, and do the following. Total time taken to install is : 5 mins


First we would need the files we need for the installation, these are as follows

  1. Rockbox OS Files for your iPod model from:
  2. The iPod Patcher tool for Windows or Linux (needed for a happy life):
  3. The bootloader iPodLoaderII:

give the ipodpatcher executable permissions

chmod +x ipodpatcher


Connect the iPod and determine the iPod partition by invoking the following.

./ipodpatcher --scan

Note the output and note the iPod disk file for example

[INFO] Scanning disk devices...
[INFO] Read XML info (9692 bytes)
[INFO] Ipod found - Video (aka 5th Generation) ("winpod") - /dev/sdc

This tells the iPod device is /dev/sdc

(Else you could also have detected it with fdisk)


As always we should backup the things in the iPod in case anything goes wrong. There are three things

  1. The Master Boot Record of the iPod

    As super user execute the following to backup the MBR of the iPod, into a filenamed ipod_mbr_bak in the current directory

        dd if=/dev/sdX of=ipod_mbr_bak bs=512 count=1

    Where /dev/sdX is the iPod device file name which is detected. Replace X with the proper value.

  2. The AppleOS

    Backup the AppleOS in the iPod by using the ipodpatcher

        ./ipodpatcher -r appleos_bak.bin

    After the execution of command you would have the image of the AppleOS raw partition in you current directory in file appleos_bak

  3. Backup Songs/Vids/Imgs etc

    I do not need to describe, just Ctrl+A and Ctrl+C in iPod and Ctrl+V in another directory in your hard disk. Or use any other way to backup the files.

Install Rockbox

  1. Unzip the Rockbox OS zip file contents which you have downloaded into the root of the iPod. Note that the extracted directory would have the name .rockbox , note the preceeding dot, so it would not be by default shown in your linux system. Use your favorite unzip program to extract.
  2. Now simply install the iPodLoaderII bootloader. To do this, first extract the ipodloader2.tar.gz file into your current directory. loader.bin will appear. Now invoke the following command, as superuser.

        ./ipodpatcher -ab loader.bin

End of Process. Now eject the ipod safely (“safely remove”).

Messed Up?

If the answer is yes, then simply reverse the process with the backups taken, by executing the following as root

  1. Restore MBR

      dd if=ipod_mbr_bak of=/dev/sdX

    Where /dev/sdX is the iPod device file name which is detected. Replace X with the proper value.

  2. Remove iPodLoaderII

        ./ipodpatcher -d
  3. Restore the AppleOS

        ./ipodpatcher -w appleos_bak.bin
  4. And obviously, copy the songs, vids, imgs etc.

If your iPod freezes while using an application in Rockbox, or AppleOS just reboot the iPod by pressing the Menu and Center button of the iPod for 5 seconds.

This can be done a bit more simple, if you have MS Windows, and use iTunes to Restore the iPod, and manyally copy paste the songs and vids, or simply sync with your disk collection.

Thats It

After you reboot the iPod you would get an option list of the installed OSes. Default selection is AppleOS. Select Rockbox from the bootloader menu and enjoy. I should give some health warnings before you start exploring. Do not play the following games:

  • Bubbles
  • Brick Mania
  • Chopper
  • Doom

These might result in 100% consumption of your and the iPod’s time and energy.


2 thoughts on “Rockbox in iPod Video 5G

  1. What is rockbox ‘suto’ installer? It has been written in the 12th line of the first paragraph.Should it be auto installer?

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